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Evan-JOE-Lical Comics Club: Of Cocks and Preachers

WHAT?!?!? I’m back already?!?!? This is momentous folks. Not only do I have content for you two weeks straight for the first time EVER, we have our first returnee-review. Alex, from our first-ever column/outing, did not let a mediocre war comic strip him of his comic book lusts. He came back for more, and like a man on a wonderful rebound, found something sexier, dirtier, and better. This is a man with tenacity; this is a man of true grit and determination. This is a man holding a big cock proudly. (This is also a man deeply shaming me in Words with Friends.) Take it away!

Name: Alex Dubin

U jelly bro?

Age:33

Website/Project/twitter/whatever you’d like to plug: I’m the only man on Pinterest! http://pinterest.com/dubin123/

What sort of history do you have with comics? Did you ever read? Do you sometimes read? I’ve read a number of graphic novels and when I do read comics, I like waiting for the trade paperback to come out.  That said, I’m a comic fan who hasn’t actually read that many comics at all.

Place of Origin: Philly [Editor's note: still ewwwwwwww.]

Occupation: Digital Marketing Consultant

What comic did you choose? The first Preacher trade paperback.

Why did you choose it?

Because I was so disappointed with Sgt. Rock, and I wanted something that felt like more of a modern story with some fantasy and “comic book” elements.  Plus people told me I’d enjoy it.

Now here is the meat of the piece, which I hope might involve some back-and-forth questioning. What did you like and what didn’t you like about:

the story - I like it.  I thought the central premise – that this mysterious preacher is searching for God to find out why he abandoned humanity – has a lot of potential.  The forces arrayed against him were powerful (if poorly developed), and I want to know how his story ends.  The micro story within the trade I was reading – about our heroes stopping a serial killer – was less great, but still fun and had a clever ending

the art  - I’ve gotten it into my head based on no specific evidence that “90′s comic art” is color saturated and uses tons of crosshatched lines to indicate shadow and age, and Preacher is a pretty good example of that kind of art. All of the characters, even the attractive ones, are ugly, and it feels like the book is working too hard to feel gritty by taking all the beauty out of the images.  It got a little tiresome, but it was still an enormous step-up from Sgt. Rock.  I could tell everyone apart, and the gore was certainly imaginative.

the format – It was formatted like a comic.  I don’t know what this means.  The font was Arial Black.  [Editor's DULY NOTED: OK, fine, that question sucks.]

the dialogue - I largely enjoyed the dialogue.  The book was well-written

the characters - I thought that the Preacher himself was the least interesting character. I really enjoyed his sidekicks, especially the punk Irish vampire.  I thought the whole “John Wayne as guardian angel” bit was pretty blatantly stolen from True Romance’s “Elvis as guardian angel” conceit, and didn’t add anything to the story.  I thought the Saint of Killers wasn’t all that interesting as a character, but I figure he might grow a bit in future trades.  I also thought the Arseface character was a fun bit of villain-origin story satire.  I wonder if they can make him seem dangerous, or if he’ll always be comic relief, which seems a bit cruel

the concept – I guess I covered this under the story.  The concept is probably the best part, and I’m excited for the Preacher to find God.

Would you want to read more from this writer? This artist? Of this book/story? Does this make you think of something else you’d want to try?

I’d be interested to see how Preacher’s story plays out.

_____________________________________________________

And I have to say, I’m excited to see how Dubin reacts to the series as it progresses. I remember when I first started reading preacher …it was around the year 2000, I believe. My at-the-time roommate and I were fresh college grads living in New York (well, Jersey City — don’t judge) and living the hard life of entry-level jobs and constant drinking. We devoured the series …had to actually pace ourselves so as not to have to wait for the final two trades. Loved the book, but time has given me some questions about it. Hopefully we can talk more about this at another time.


As always folks, feel free to comment or give suggestions. We recently added another new member, and I’m in the midst of a project involving a high-profile superhero monthly as a party theme …more to come.

19 Comments

I take my Words with Friends dominance to be less about you personally and more of a comment about the educators in the New York City public school system. And if that’s the case, then isn’t this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Joe – isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to me, but I’m not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!

[...] Evan-JOE-Lical Comics Club: Of Cocks and Preachers- comicbookresources.com WHAT?!?!? I’m back already?!?!? This is momentous folks. Not only do I have content for you two weeks straight for the first time EVER, we have our first returnee-review. Alex, from our first-ever column/outing, did not let a mediocre war comic strip him of his comic book lusts. He came back for more, and like [... [...]

oh man

aw geez

you’re right …

This feature has reminded me of something I’d forgotten about my own experiences reading Preacher: the first two arcs read very much as a superhero narrative — albeit a profane, satirical, and “post-spandex” one — as compared to the later, more character- and theme-driven chapters of the overall story.

The two arcs in the first trade are about people getting powers or missions, they have seemingly clear-cut antagonists, and they are primarily action-driven (as opposed to later chapters, where action is sporadic but ultraviolent). In fact, the “Reaver-Cleaver” story does very little in the overall narrative, other than introducing (very subtly and almost imperceptibly) Cassidy’s unstrustworthiness. Even so, it’s hardly his fault that the villain of the arc turns out to be who he is. The police officers, who get a lot of panel time, really don’t matter much to the larger narrative, nor does the serial killer. (Getting Jesse “on the radar” already happened in the first arc, for example, and the prototype of Detective Soap we meet doesn’t succeed at getting Jesse “off the radar” at all.)

Looking back, I barely recall most of the first trade when I think about the story of Preacher as a whole. It was really the second trade that got me hooked on the series, and that’s where the deeper themes and distinctive elements of the book really come into play. (I got both as part of a two-for-one sale at the local comics shop.) I also recall taking a looooong time to pick up the stuff after the “War in the Sun” arc, because I found that one — wait for it — oddly boring.

There’s a strong argument to be made that Preacher uses its major arcs to spoof, deconstruct, or even celebrate particular genres. The minis and one-shots do this more explicitly, devoting themselves to plot setups by way of parodying Anne Rice and, in the inconsequential Jody and T.C. special, 1990s action movies; or, in the Saint’s origin mini, taking on deconstructive westerns like Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns and Unforgiven.

Read this way, the first trade has the superhero origin story spoof and the serial killer movie/procedural TV show parody. From a very twisted angle, the Jesus de Sade arc takes on the 1980s sex comedies, especially the “house party” subgenre. “War in the Sun” is perhaps the war movie with a twist, as is, more successfully, the Vietnam issue. (I suppose that’s why I didn’t like “War in the Sun;” the kind of action-oriented war movie that arc takes on and celebrates is the kind I find boring elsewhere, too.) “Salvation” is the classic Western, reconstructed from the deconstructive 1990s versions. The final arc is structured like a conspiracy thriller, with lower-scale but emotionally deeper action sequences, and like many a conspiracy thriller, it ends with a sniper shot followed by series of reveals.

Preacher was always as much about American pop culture as it was about Western Christianity; indeed, the religion Ennis’s satire attacks is itself more the pop version of organized religion than anything else. It’s notable that Ennis has little to say about Jesus, for example, let alone Judaism, Islam, or any non-Abrahamic religion. Not even the Book of Mormon comes in, and this in a story primarily about the American relationship with Christianity. I suppose growing up in Belfast would push you away from theology and towards institutional and cultural critique by definition…and Ennis would likely argue that only the latter two take on reality anyway.

Oh, crap….can someone throw huge SPOILER warnings at the top of my post?

Omar: Preacher ended over a decade ago. If people don’t know what’s going on by now, it’s their problem.

I just finished re-reading Preacher, and it’s odd how it doesn’t hold up all that well. Ennis’s two other 1990s epics – Hellblazer and Hitman – are still very bracing, but Preacher seems to be full of sound and fury with very little underneath. It’s frustrating, because it seems like it should resonate longer, based on a lot of what you wrote and how Ennis was trying to do these sorts of things. But it’s very much a “you-had-to-be-there” comic, because part of its appeal is waiting eagerly for the next installment. Taken as a whole, it’s a tad disappointing.

For what it’s worth, I took most of the detective stuff to be a pretty effective red-herring designed to make me think that the cop with the sex fetish was in fact the killer. I didn’t think there was a whole lot of satire to be had there (unless tough, bigoted cop is secretly into all sorts of kinky gay stuff counts as satire). Mostly the other detective sort of made me think of the shrink from Watchmen, both in his general sad-sackness as well as the way he was drawn.

I was about to say Preacher was like the first interesting girlfriend you had, and you romanticize her later on. But even more than that, with PunisherMAX, the girl had an older sister or cousin you dated later in life that was one of your best relationships ever, and that ended well.

I thought the cross-hatching added a lot to Dillon’s pictures. Now that he has gotten rid of it, his art feels completely empty and boring to me. Though, it may be a matter of taste. Is it only me?

I started reading the Preacher trades around 1999 or so…around the same time that I started reading the Hellboy trades. Both were my first attempts out of the superhero/spandex world…and both gave me a renewed interest in comics as a whole. I haven’t read either in a long while…but I have loaned both series out to people who are interested in getting into comics but don’t know where to start. I must say that I have had far more success with creating new comic fans with Preacher than I have with Hellboy…maybe because Preacher is SO much sound and fury…you can’t help but get carried away with it. I haven’t re-read Preacher in a very long time…so maybe it is time to see if it holds up for me at all. I now have my doubts reading some of these comments! Oh well.

I had gotten the first 2 Preacher trades back in the day, and it was interesting stuff at the time. However, I’ve never been quite interested enough to try to get the rest of it. I think I reread them a couple years back and found them still to be decent, but again, not quite interesting enough to pick up more.

I know when I first read the Boys, I thought, didn’t he do a lot of this stuff in Preacher already?

I think you were vague enough, Omar, that you didn’t need a spoiler warning.

Despite not loving Preacher, I am disappointed that Ennis and Dillon apparently put City Lights at the wayside. It’d be interesting to see what they’d do if they weren’t trying to involve any sort of superhero/superpowers type reference/satire/allusion and just do a story of “real life”.

I think, based on the picture above, and before he reads volume 2, you should totally start calling Alex “T.C.”

@ Omar
I never thought of the Jesus De Sade arc as a parody of 80′s house party movies before but you might be on to something there.

Preacher is far and away my favourite thing Ennis has ever done. I’ve read a lot of the other stuff, but Preacher is the only one I’d really like to own. (I do own some Punisher, Hitman and The Boys trades, but I just haven’t gotten around to reselling them.) Like any matter of taste, your mileage may vary.

The art in the first trade is pretty ugly, to be fair. Dillon improved a lot as the series progressed.

Hitman is the best, don’t be silly, guys.

Also, I don’t like Ennis’ Punisher.

And also, Alex rocks out with his cock out.

If you’re gonna stick with the bad “pun” in the title of these pieces, I will attempt to outdo them in badness.

Bada-Bing Bada-Boom

March 15, 2012 at 8:17 am

I’ve had always mixed feelings for Preacher. It was interesting and captivating read, but on the other hand, it was very over-the-top with characters, violence and ideas. I agree that “War in the sun” was a bit uninteresting. The closer Preacher was to the end, the lesser was the impact of the story overall.

Read today, Preacher seems to be Ennis taking the piss out of, celebrating, or loudly decrying things he cares about. The anti-religious aspect (which was something I didn’t see in other media when I was a teenager) is particularly weak; “God is dead/ doesn’t care/ is insane” is a notion an adolescent might come to and think he is daring or deep for doing so. What I liked best about Preacher were the themes of friendship and betrayal and the humor. The immature humor bothers me less than the immature philosophy.

That said, Preacher was one of my favorite comics while it was being published.

“What I liked best about Preacher were the themes of friendship and betrayal and the humor.”

This, and a thousand times this. And I’m afraid that is *actually* what Preacher was about. One only has to look at what is the story’s real climax: two guys sitting in a bar and then kicking the shit out of each other (the important thing is, obviously, the stuff both of them are saying to one another).

I have yet to read a better exploration in comics of the ups and downs of male friendship than Preacher.

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